Against The Tide

Kelly Gordon, USA

August 9, 2021

My job responsibilities consist of management of the vessel and crew and safe navigation and operation of the vessel.

What I love most about my job is the camaraderie amongst other captains and crew. It’s like having a family away from family.

My biggest challenge has been trusting myself, I sometimes doubt my decisions. However I have learnt that self-talk, the conversations that I have with myself in my head, are key. I feel that it is very important to be your biggest and first fan. I can’t stress enough how important self-talk is. So, I make it a point to speak kindly to myself. Sometimes, I even ask myself, “If this was your best friend would you talk to her this way?” The answer is always no. So, that allows me to shift gears back to talking myself through whatever situation I am in and then I can move forward with the decision that I am feeling weary about making and it ultimately brings me back to a place of trusting myself. I also think that it is a positive attribute because it is why I double and triple check my decisions.

As a captain, I have a lot of responsibility, so I always check and double check myself on my decisions. I think that is part of being a prudent captain. There’s a difference between double checking your decisions and doubting them, though. So, when I doubt myself I use it as a means to reinforce the decision that I am about to make. I find that this has allowed me to continue to make good decisions. Then, there are the outside voices that will cause you to doubt yourself. These, you must ignore, but I am human and they sometimes get to me. So, I make it a practice to not allow negativity in my life. When it comes to gender challenges it seems that I have to prove myself a bit more than my male counterparts do. But, I try to use these challenges as drive and motivation to succeed.

My advice to other seafarers would be don’t be afraid to approach the senior captains in this industry. When starting out I reached out to them in a couple of ways, I had a mentor that pushed and encouraged me. That is so, so important. And, I would use a visualization technique. It may seem odd, but I would walk down the dock to approach a captain while envisioning myself plugging my nose and jumping in, as if I was jumping into the deep end of the pool. You know you always come out fine after you do and I always did after I approached that captain. Thus, the more I did, more folks started lending a helping hand, so to speak. They may seem scary at first, but most captains want to help see the younger crew grow. A mentor in this industry is a huge help!

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